August 17, 2011

Manchin Seeks D.C.'s 'Middle' | The Wheeling Intelligencer

WHEELING - Sen. Joe Manchin advises voters to be wary of candidates who promise to always vote their party's politics.

And Manchin said if you see any politician signing a pledge promising not to do something, "You better be looking for another candidate."

"If that person locks himself in that tight, you've got a problem," he said. "And that's what we're finding in Washington - on both sides, left and right. And it doesn't need to be."

Manchin, D-W.Va., was the keynote speaker Tuesday for a luncheon hosted by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce.

In his remarks, he attributed the recent stalemate in Washington over the federal budget to lawmakers' inability to compromise amid party pressures.

"We don't have a red problem or a blue problem - we have a red, white and blue problem," Manchin said. "I don't care if you're on the left or the right. You better come together in the middle and make this thing work.

"That's where I'm going. I spend most of my time trying to get people to talk in the middle, and building relationships. You build a relationship, you can fix a problem," he said.

Manchin was elected in November to succeed the late Robert Byrd and he took office less than two weeks later. He said the political process he saw in Charleston isn't the same as what he has thus far witnessed in Washington.

"I never thought - never ever anticipated - it would be as dysfunctional as I've seen it be," he said. "When I say that, I'm doing it in the most respectful way. But how have we grown apart that far? How have we put our personal politics and our party politics ahead of the country? I've never seen that.

"We all enjoy our politics ... but there was never a time in my state, West Virginia, that we couldn't sit down with everybody. We have our differences, but we found a commonality. If you can find the common denominator, you can come to the middle. You can fix it. But if you get so caught in ideology, you can't move."

And the focus of Congress should be jobs, according to Manchin.

"Everybody's talking about jobs, and it's always been about jobs," he said. "If you've got a job in America today, you're probably concerned if you're going to keep it."

The economy has changed dramatically in recent years, he continued.

"With that said, we've got more people looking for jobs," Manchin said. "And we've got people who don't want to work - to put it bluntly."

Manchin discussed how the nation could be re-energized. He suggested reform of existing trade laws he said don't benefit Americans; making changes to existing federal tax code; and reigning in regulatory agencies he said are "running amok."

Republican members of Congress representing West Virginia have been especially critical of the Obama Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which many say is waging "a war" against the use of the state's coal.

And policy decisions in Washington do have economic affects back home, Manchin noted.

"Right now we have a true financial problem," he said. "You can blame it on any past administration - I guarantee you it won't fix a thing. When you start pointing fingers, you can't fix anything. Whether I agree or disagree, the person who made a decision probably made it with the best of intentions. They're all good, true Americans. I don't know whether their thought process was bad, their gathering of information was poor - they did it with the best of intentions. ... If it didn't work out, fix it."

By:  Joselyn King
Source: Says Washington isn't the same as Charleston